The headline on Rob Gage's website is apt: Rob Gage Clinics & More…
The veteran horseman has 40-plus years of experience and he is happy to share it. Based in San Diego County's Fallbrook, he's been giving clinics regularly for several years and he's returned to the national spotlight recently thanks to his recurring role on www.JudgeMyRide.net. Along with fellow Californian Carol Dean Porter, Rob critiques hunter, jumper and equitation videos submitted by riders on the website.
His most recent venture is a sort of horsemanship education/vacation package, targeted to equestrians who live outside of Southern California. Rob will arrange to teach visiting riders himself, as well as tour them around to neighboring professionals for lessons on other horses. When the riding day is done, visitors can hit the nearby beaches and stay at a luxury hotel where Rob has made all the arrangements.
The idea came about by accident after a rider from Atlanta contacted Rob about coming to California for a few lessons. Rob, a USEF R judge, had given 16-year-old Anna Easton several critiques through Judge My Ride and encouraged the natural talent he recognized in her riding. When the prospect of a visit to California arose, Rob suggested she would benefit from the input of additional trainers. A few phone calls to friends later, he had a mini-tour set up. In the course of three days, Anna rode 10 horses at three barns, gaining insights from both Rob and the trainers at each stable.
When he learned that Anna had never seen the Pacific Ocean, the idea of combining this destination with a coaching and riding tour became a new business venture.
"It's always a good thing to get different opinions," Rob says. "I am mostly a jumper person, so I also want to bring in a hunter expert and a tip-top equitation trainer." Tours will be tailored to the interests of the participants and suitable horses will be secured at each stop. The trips can include competing in Southern California shows if that's on the client's wish list.
Rob welcomes students of all ability levels, but they do have to be serious about their riding. "I'm very pushy and demanding," he says. "I want people to always try their best and concentrate at their top level because that's how they'll get the most out of the instruction and improve at the fastest rate. I hope the riding part will be fun, but it will be work."
Rob's experience and connections make him uniquely suited to pull this venture off. In his heyday as a rider, he was named Grand Prix show jumping rider of the year a remarkable four times. As a trainer, his students won over 30 medal finals or year-end awards.
He lost his heart for the full-time training business many years ago after two wonderful young students were killed in a car accident. "That just took it out of me," he says of his decision to sell his business. The clinics and coaching he now offers are by no means a re-entry to operating his own training stable. Rob's girlfriend of 12 years, Lauren Craft, has been a successful amateur jumper rider and is now launching her own training business in Fallbrook.
Rob and Lauren have a small arena at their home stable, where he welcomes haul-in tune-ups, but otherwise Rob's plate is pretty full. The growing popularity of his clinics and his work on JudgeMyRide.net and, hopefully, this new venture will keep him plenty busy.
For more information, call Rob Gage at 949-690-2021 or visit www.robgageclincs.com.